May 31, 2015
ThinkingPhones: An Under-Recognized Industry Leader in Boston

Hidden gems – there’s a lot of them around Boston. 

We often hear about the success of Wayfair and Rue La La for consumer tech, but Lose It! gets lost in the shuffle. We hear about Acquia and HubSpot for B2B, but Buildium isn’t recognized for topping 10,000+ customers. Maybe some are less sexy or buzz-worthy, but whatever the reason, many tech companies among us are doing big things and not getting the attention they deserve. 

One of those is Cambridge-based ThinkingPhones, a global leader in cloud unified communications for the modern, mobile enterprise. Essentially, ThinkingPhones moves all of your business voice, video, text, and collaboration apps onto a single, intelligent, mobile-ready cloud platform. 

ThinkingPhones. Steven Kokinos. Derek Yoo

ThinkingPhones was founded in 2006 by two longtime colleagues and business partners, Steve Kokinos and Derek Yoo. In 1999, the two founded WebYes, an early web hosting and application service provider. And in 2008, they sold BladeLogic, which provided data center automation solutions for enterprises, service providers and government organizations, to BMC Software for $800 million after having gone public in 2007. 

The track record of success is soundly in place. 


Meet Your New Office Phone 

While much of the workforce strictly relies on their smartphone, many others still utilize the old-fashioned desktop phone – a bulky, space-hogging device with zero connectivity to any other important data or information. Kokinos and Yoo are changing all of that. 

“Enterprise communication tools have been stuck in a rut and lack imagination,” Kokinos told me, explaining how ThinkingPhones takes a lot of UX and UI inspiration from consumer models. 

With their vision set, they’ve built an app that migrates all relevant systems, allowing users to access and input key information in one place. 

“Did something notable happen on a sales call? You can leave a Salesforce note while still within your ThinkingPhones app,” Yoo explained. 

Breaking down ThinkingPhones clearly, Kokinos, CEO, and Yoo, CTO, provided three key elements. 

1. Communications infrastructure: ThinkingPhones takes all existing communications functions and moves them into the cloud, where they are secure and maintain high quality. 

2. Integration: In order to deliver information in real-time to its users, ThinkingPhones integrates with other cloud platforms such as Salesforce, providing immediate information about the user’s customers at the right time. 

3. Accessibility: The ThinkingPhones platform increases efficiency by improving access to information and becoming the key source of workflow. 


Company Growth 

Kokinos and Yoo, early to the market when they started, bootstrapped the company in its first years. After experiencing 100% growth in 2012, they raised their first institutional funding: a $16.5 million round led by leading venture capitalist firms Advanced Technology Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. In 2013, there was a $10 million follow-on investment

Having surpassed, for the most part, the process of educating the market on “the cloud” (a new term at the time they launched), ThinkingPhones’ growth began to ramp up even more. In December of 2014, they raised $56.7 million, led by Technology Crossover Ventures. In a statement at the time of the funding, the company said: 

“The investment will enable ThinkingPhones to capitalize on the revolutionary shift in business communications driven by the widespread adoption of mobile devices in the enterprise. Funds will be used to accelerate product innovation, dramatically expand ThinkingPhones’ global sales force, and enhance customer support services. The company expects to more than double its workforce by the end of 2015.” 

Not even half way through 2015, ThinkingPhones has already added 170 employees to its roster (along with the acquisition of Contactive this past February). Up from roughly 250, they are well on their way to attaining the goal of doubling this year. While with Kokinos, Yoo, and VP of Marketing, David Laubner, I was told: “Every department needs a lot of people.” 

The company, which is certainly a candidate for a near-future IPO, is an exciting one to work for. Walking through the massive space in Cambridge, their early startup culture remains intact and they have a lot of growth still to come. 

           ThinkingPhones Cambridge

“We’re building a big brand here,” Laubner said. 

With the rapid growth ThinkingPhones has experienced, I asked Kokinos to share a bit more insight on the market opportunity available: 

“There are 400 million enterprise users around the world and less than half have migrated to the cloud.” 

Kokinos, Yoo and Laubner, all clearly excited and passionate about the direction of ThinkingPhones, were on the same page about the company’s future. I found that future, and their confidence, best summed up with one simple quote from Kokinos: 

“We’re going to be the winner in the space.”


Josh Boyle is Director of Marketing & Community, VentureFizz.  You can follow him on Twitter @jb_sid
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